Proposal would limit feeding and baiting deer

OUTAGAMIE COUNTY – Sportsmen from around Wisconsin want the Department of Natural Resources to limit a traditional hunting practice in the state.

The proposal focuses on feeding and baiting deer leading up to and including the nine-day gun-deer season.

It stems from votes Monday night across the state, during a series of Conservation Congress meetings.

As part of that meeting, hunters from across the state took part in a survey. 58 questions dealt with hunting, fishing, trapping and more.

The question calling for the ban had backing from 60 percent of the voters.

Conservation Congress leaders say the vote reflects changing attitudes in the sport.

The tradition of using corn to feed and bait deer dates back decades, but it could be a thing of the past.

“It was a compromise question to see what the public’s opinion was on banning feeding to help move deer around, to keep them from being nocturnal, move the distribution around so that they aren’t concentrated in areas that had maybe bait or feed out,” said Bryan Woodbury, DNR wildlife biologist.

Outagamie County was one of 66 counties in the state to support the ban.

“Probably in the last 10 years, it’s changed from against banning it, to probably for banning it,” said Steve Ninneman, Outagamie County Conservation Congress vice chairman. “Some people feel that they’ll see more deer if there’s less feed in the woods to draw the deer.”

But not everyone is on board with the ban. In Northeast Wisconsin, Green Lake and Langlade counties rejected the measure.

“They feel that it is they’re able to draw more deer into a range where they feel they’re going to be more accurate when they actually go to shoot a deer,” said Arlen Heistad, Langlade County Conservation Congress delegate.

The DNR says concerns over chronic wasting disease have eliminated feeding in 35 counties already.

“We have a trend of increasing more counties with baiting bans because of CWD, either wild populations or game farms,” said Woodbury.

It’s a tradition that has divided hunters.

“I think if you have success with one or the other, you’re probably going to say that’s the only way to go,” said Heistad.

“I believe it is an issue that keeps breaking us apart, but it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t be that type of issue,” said Ninneman.

This vote is advisory.

Any changes in deer hunting rules will be made by the state Legislature.

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